A sitting congressman – before an investigation was completed- claiming Marines killed civilians in cold blood is worthy of treason. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) made that charge, and one of the Marines filed suit against Murtha for defamation. Murtha, of course, claimed Congressional immunity.
I guess goons like Murtha can say anything that they want and get away with it as long as he’s speaking in his official capacity. From The Hill.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich filed suit against Murtha, claiming that the veteran lawmaker damaged his reputation when he told the press that Wuterich’s squad in 2005 killed civilians in cold blood in Haditha, Iraq.
Wuterich argued that Murtha made false and defamatory statements to the press about Wuterich’s and his comrades’ role in the civilian deaths.
Murtha, a former Marine, used his congressional immunity as his defense, arguing that he made those statements to the press in his official capacity as a member of Congress. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday ruled that Wuterich can’t sue Murtha.
Wuterich is the only person awaiting trial in the Haditha case. A military jury acquitted one of the Haditha defendants, and charges against six others have been dropped. Prosecutors allege that Wuterich’s squad took revenge for a roadside bombing, while defense attorneys argue the civilian casualties couldn’t be avoided during a firefight with insurgents.
For some real history, why don’t you read the full text of Murtha’s May 2006 statement that includes the following reference to the Marine fire fight in Haditha, with my emphasis added.
Now, two days after I made my statement [Murtha wanted to pull out of Iraq], on November 19th, we had an incident in Haditha in Anbar province, where a Marine was killed with an IED. Time magazine reported it, and it’s kind of a puzzling report, because they’re investigating it right now. Let me tell you what the consequences of this have been.
It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine. There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that’s what the report is going to tell.
Now, you can imagine the impact this is going to have on those troops for the rest of their lives and for the United States in our war and our effort in trying to win the hearts and minds.
We can’t operate, we can’t sustain this operation. Eighty percent of the Iraqis want us out of Iraq; 47 percent say it’s all right to kill Americans.
Remember that charges have been dropped for six Marines, one was acquitted and Wuterich is still awaiting trial.
Murtha has never publicly apologized for his statement and the Marines deserve more respect – especially itfrom a former Marine. Of course, Murtha felt it necessary to apoligize to voters when he called them racists, but I guess none of the Marines are from his district.
Update: (April 23) Makin posted about this today.